6 Tips to Help You Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

For most folks, especially those buying their first home or condo, this will be the biggest investment they ever make in their lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you are buying a home or selling your home, the key to success is being able to maximize your investment.
choosing a realtor

choosing a realtor

One of the most important decisions you can make right out the gate is choosing the right real estate agent. The right Realtor can make all the difference in how fast you sell or buy a house, the price you wind up paying, and how painless the entire process is.These six tips will go a long way in getting you off to a great start.  
  1. Working With the Professionals
  If you want a job done right, you want to be working with the experts in that field. The same can be said for the real estate market. To start, it is important to understand the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. These terms tend to be used interchangeably, so it is common for many people to get them confused. These terms are used to identify real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This means they subscribe to a very strict code of realty ethics that in many cases will, in fact, go above rea state laws.  
  1. Experience is Everything in Real Estate
Just as experience in any skilled profession gives that individual an advantage over someone just learning that skill, you want an experienced Realtor working with you when you are buying or selling your home. This is not the time to hire someone who you get along with and are willing to let things slide as they adjust to the learning curve. There are too many things that can go wrong in the home buying and selling process to leave it up to someone lacking experience. The very first question that you should be asking a potential Realtor is how long they have worked in this area and how long they have been licensed.  
  1. Interviewing Multiple Local Realtors
Long before you are meeting with Realtors to consider hiring them, you should have already narrowed the search based on their qualifications, experience, and location. Don’t make your decision just yet, have at least four potential candidates that you are still considering, and set up interviews to meet with them and discuss your interest. One of the best ways to get a peek into the inner-workings of any Realtor is to simply show up at one of their open houses and watch how they conduct themselves when under the spotlight. Don’t state your intentions, just act like you’re curious about the house and not ready to make a commitment yet. If they’re very cordial and accommodating, you’ll know right away. If they are too busy on Facebook to show you around, imagine how they will be when you hire them.  
  1. Working with a Local Realtor
We use the term local to describe the experience the Realtor has, not so much the fact they live within a certain amount of miles of the area you are looking to buy or sell. The local Realtor is more familiar with the inner workings of the area, more so than a broker who travels the state looking to work as many transactions as possible to support themselves. When you are still interviewing potential Realtors, be sure to ask them about the houses they have listed or sold this year in this area. If you are selling your house, the perfect realtor will be able to easily speak with potential buyers when they have questions about local schools, activities, or growth. On the same hand, if you are buying a home, your realtor should be in the position to provide you with details on taxes, schools, the community, and other facts you might be interested in learning.  
  1. Agreeing on Future Expectations
One of the biggest issues that occur between realtors and clients is the tension of not knowing what to expect next when things are slow. For example, your realtor is out looking for properties for you, but only reports in a few times a week when you think they should be following up nightly with information. To eliminate any tension down the line, even before you sign a contract with a realtor, there should be a plan in place that helps you to understand what your realtor is doing even when they are not reporting back every five minutes. Your realtor will advise you on what they will be doing, when they will be checking in, and what is the best way to reach them.  
  1. Finding a Personality Match
While choosing a realtor is not like going on a first date, it does have some of the same components that could work in your favor. Depending on the market, this may be a very long relationship you are entering into. Now that you have a small list of potential Realtors, choose someone you get along with, someone your personality connects with. If you trust the person, you like the person, and you already get along, it will go a very long way in ensuring a smooth transaction down the road, however long that may be.   As you can see, the right real estate agent can make or break the deal, so it is worth even second you spend at the start researching their qualifications and personality too. Select the right Realtor, and this real estate transaction will go without major incidents and get you where you need to be in the least amount of time.  

What Happens When a Buyer Backs Out of a Real Estate Sale?

real estate deal goes bad

real estate deal goes bad

However how hard it might sound, not all home selling deals close as expected. In some cases, the sellers cancel the contracts, and in other instances, the buyers willingly walk away. That explains why selling a house is not as simple as compared to most of other selling processes.   There are so many reasons that can lead to the falling through of a house selling process. Buyers are however legally allowed to back out before the house buying deal closes, under certain circumstances. This might occur if the seller fails to comply with the conditions contained in the contract. The other reason that might push a buyer to back out is when they have found another deal that is much better – but they would still need a LEGAL reason to get out of the contract.   A qualified property attorney or some of the best real estate agents are the best people to deal with determining if the buyer has a legal right to back out of a real estate transaction.  Just because YOU feel it was wrong for them to back out — doesn’t mean they didn’t have a legal right to do so.  In many states, if you fight (and loose) you may be required to pay a portion or all of the buyers court costs.    

Determine What Went Wrong

  The first step to execute when a buyer has backed out of a deal is finding what might have gone wrong. If the reason that led to the backing out of the buyer was due to your actions when it comes to the management of the property and the needed information, then you can still save the situation by complying. If either the personal or financing status of the buyer led him to back out, then you might be forced to cancel the contract and keep the earnest money deposit of the buyer.  

What to do When its Your Fault

  If your failure to perform a particular duty that you had agreed to in writing causes the buyer to pull out of the deal, then you still have a chance of saving the situation. If for instance, the contract duty was a repair of the home, then it is still possible to perform it and save the situation.  If you are selling a condominium, there are many additional documents you (as the seller) must provide in a timely manor.  If you do not – you may be in breach of contract. Alternatively, you can negotiate on the acceptable amount to the buyers, which you can then offer them as a lieu of the repair work that should be done. Here, both parties; you and the buyer; will come to terms to stop the deal or decide to continue with it. If by any chance the buyer opts to cancel, they should also enjoy their earnest money deposit as well as other compensation for resources and time consumed in the entire process.

What Happens When it’s the Buyer’s Fault?

  The buyer in a typical real estate transaction has so many roles and responsibilities to play particularly when the matters to do with finances are involved. When the buyer’s loan doesn’t come through, or he has lost his job, then he might technically be unable to buy a property. When you have done all that are legally required of you as the seller, and the deal falls through, then the decision to cancel it or renegotiate it to make it possible for the buyer to purchase the house is entirely yours.   That kind of decision will be wholly dependent on the following factors; ·         Your motivation to sell the house ·         How well the negotiations currently deal fits you ·         Whether you can be able to get another buyer that is more qualified.

There are Legal Late-Stage Exits

  In a normal process of selling a home, the buyer will make an offer on the seller’s property, and when the seller accepts it, the two will agree to sign a contract. The status of that house will then change from “for sale” to “under contract,” and that would indicate the process of almost closing the deal. Home purchase or sale can only be complete when all the involved parties have signed the legal documents that are used to transfer the ownership. The contingency clauses written on the buyers’ contracts are the legal ways they can apply to back out of the contract. Here are some of the most common ones; the mortgage loan contingency – The buyer will have to secure a mortgage for that particular property. The Home Inspection Contingency – Most modern real estate contracts include a period of time for the purchase to complete property inspections.  Once the inspections have been completed – the buyer can ask for repairs to be made or a reduction of the cost.  At this point, either party can back out of the deal. The Sale Contingency – The purchase of a home would depend on the buyer who is selling his/her property.  This is sometimes referred to as a Predicated Offer or Contingency offer. The Appraisal Contingency – Most real estate purchase agreements are written so  that a home’s price must wither meet or be lower than the official appraisal price. When a deal fails to go through, its either the seller or the buyer had a change of heart. It could also take place when part of the clauses present in the first contract is not met.  

The Cost of Backing Out to Sellers

If you have been under contract and the buyer walks out on a deal, then you can lose the following: The Interest – The moment your property goes under contract, other buyers who might have had an interest may have to look for other similar houses. The Time– The most hurting bit of a fallen through real estate deal is that sellers will have to start again. This is time-consuming and might affect your plans for buying another property.  The money you may end up losing huge funds when the deal fails to succeed.   When a buyer backs out before a deal closes, it is mainly due to the fact that a number of clauses haven’t been met, or the buyer changes his/her mood. The only way a seller can safeguard themselves from fake buyers is to be empowered and informed seller. The seller should be well versed with the contract details and consult a professional real estate agent. It is also equally important to have a real estate agent review the contracts carefully.  

Accidents Happen Everyday

  Accidents happen all the time and sometimes they can result in people getting hurt. Some of these everyday accidents are considered no-fault. A no-fault accident is when all parties involved accept equal culpability. In these cases everyone accepts that the accident could not have been prevented. On the other hand, some accidents happen as a result of negligence and human error and, if this happens, you have the right to demand recompense from the party at fault. It is at this point that you should start asking the question: Do I need a Personal Injury Attorney?  

Why Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

Car accidents are the number one cause of personal injurys

Car accidents are the number one cause of personal injury

If you are the victim of an accident and you have suffered an injury or some sort of damage because of someone else’s actions, you must by law prove it before you can get the compensation you deserve. Filing a claim and getting through the legal proceedings takes time and effort and hiring a qualified Personal Injury Attorney might be the difference between winning your case or losing it.  

Here’s how a Personal Injury Attorney can help you:

        These are just a first of the steps that a personal injury attorney will take in order to initiate your claim and finally bring it to court.   Suffering a debilitating accident can be extremely difficult and a challenge for both you and your family. Sometimes a personal injury case can be a long process and it may take some time before it’s settled and the claim is awarded. Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney can take a lot of the stress and worry off of your shoulders during an already difficult time. They will have your back and keep you up to date with court times and other details of your case.  

Massachusetts Looks To Electronic Signatures for Conveyance of Real Estate

electronic conveyance of title

A Path to Electronic Notary Acknowledgements

The next generation of home buyers has descended upon the real estate market, millennials who have grown up in the world of digital commerce are now entering the home ownership market. As this new market continues to grow, the conveyancing industry in Massachusetts is now facing increased pressure to find ways to abandon the paper trail and instead find ways to embrace and utilize safely electronic communications for real estate acknowledgements and closings.

What is the legal standing?

The legal basis for this technological transition that has title companies and other conveyance professionals concerned, has actually been in place since a 2004 ruling that was the cornerstone of the adoption of MGL c.110G, the Massachusetts Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. Since the decision in 2004, registries of deeds in the commonwealth have had to comply with the electronic recording systems. However, some uncertainly still remains, particularly regarding acknowledgements.  But real estate is a very litigious business with a lot of money transacting, in many instances, with principles with little understanding of the law.  Every aspect of the real estate transaction is ripe for litigious action, from the listing agreement, to the property inspection to the title search to the closing documents. Last year Richard P. Howard, Jr, a frequent contributor to REBA News, and who has served as register of the Middlesex north district Registry of deeds since 1995, wrote in about electronic acknowledgement statutes in other jurisdictions in “Remote electronic acknowledgments,” published in the March 2017 edition of REBA News. In the article, he explains the reason that registries of deeds throughout Massachusetts should record documents electronically acknowledged outside of Massachusetts, but not record those electronically acknowledgement within Massachusetts. His basis for that opinion was that Massachusetts law requires a notary to affix a stamp to an acknowledgement, and that our law provides no electronic equivalent of that notary stamp. He states:
“With the demand for electronic acknowledgements looming but not yet fully upon us, now is the time to amend our notary statute to accommodate new technological practices. The starting point for such an amendment should be a shared understanding of the purpose of an acknowledgement, particularly with regard to real estate documents.”

Why is the registry so important?

In colonial Massachusetts, the purpose of the registry was to provide the public with a record of who owned what property. This was enacted as a means to curtail under the table or secret sales that created uncertainty in real estate transactions. The purpose of this requirement that a deed was to be acknowledged by a legal entity before recording was set in place to curtail fraud, in the case of a forged signature or an actual signature later denied by its author. Although these precedents were conceived in the seventeenth century, the rationale for these rules persist today and registries of deeds continue to perform the core function of creating public real estate ownership records, only now they are using new technology to perform the same functions. The Primary core function of an acknowledgement of deed is to assure the public that the individual who signature is on the document is who he or she says they are. In Massachusetts the task is handled by a notary who personally witnesses this person putting his signature to the document after positively identifying the person through verified documentation. The notary then attests to his role in the verification by signing the acknowledgement, printing his name, the expiration date of his notary commission, and then affixing his notary stamp to the document. MGLc.222, s.8 requires a notary stamp to include “the notary public’s name exactly as indicated on the commission; the words ‘notary public’ and ‘Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ or ‘Massachusetts’; the expiration date of the commission in the following words: ‘My commission expires _____’; and a facsimile seal of the commonwealth.”
digital signature in real estate

Digital signature are commonly used by real estate agents in the field

Precedent in Electronic Signatures

Electronic acknowledgement statutes have already been adopted in several states although some states have created a duality in the industry by separating the offices with one for regular notaries and another separate office for electronic notaries. Other states are requiring notaries to invest in expensive, sophisticated technology that encrypts the electronic document being acknowledged so it is tamper proof.  These practices – a dual commission system and requiring sophisticated software of electronic notaries – exceed anything now required or expected of notaries in Massachusetts, however, the pressure from millennial home buyers is causing them to make the needed changes.

The transition taking place is affecting the registry in many ways. As the number of walk-in customers continues to decrease, and the requests for electronic recording increases the need for recording terminals increases proportionately as does the need to reduce the number of public access computers. A big plus for the move is that it takes the registry less time to process electronically recorded documents than the ones who walk-in, resulting in reduced wait times for recording.

Liability vs Convenience

The growth of electronic recording no doubt increases the registries utility and reliability, but there are still additional features that would improve on the system. For example, now when a customer clicks “send to the registry” for an electronic recording, the document package is immediately sent and the submitter has no ability to recall it in case of an error. The submitter now has to call the registry asking that the package they just transmitted be rejected due to a late-discovered error. A newer system might include a “are you sure” option and even a virtual queue allowing customers to review documents before sending them. While any concerns over electronic documents has not suppressed the growth of electronic recording, real estate professionals agree that providing customers with more detailed information would help ease any lingering concerns.

The future of these technological changes is for the most part in the hands of registry users. As more and more real estate attorneys, lenders, real estate brokers and homeowners migrate to fully electronic closings, the volume of electronic real estate recordings will continue to rise, and the amount of walk-in documents and snail mail deliveries will decline even more.

Changes in Real Estate Law

These changes are coming quickly,  We have recently seen a battle in Massachusetts where text messages appear to be binding in a real estate contract. Still there are those in the real estate industry must keep in mind that not everyone who owns real estate has a smart phone, wants a smart phone or is even comfortable with using one for complex financial transactions.     So, for those of you who want to “see ink on paper” walk-in recordings, and walk-in customer service, will always be an important part of the mission of the registry of deeds. For the next home buying generation who is pushing us all into the next era of communications, Massachusetts is ready to do business!

What Should I Do After A Car Wreck

Most people will be involved in at least one car wreck in their lives. Fortunately, although there are millions of car accidents in the United States every year, not all of them result in any serious injury. If you have had a car wreck it is very important to know what to do immediately afterwards otherwise you may find yourself facing huge liability issues. Many people assume that the first thing that they should do is call a personal injury attorney. While it is important to do that there are other things that you must do right after the accident happens.

Call the Police

The first is to make sure that you stop. If it is a minor scrape you may be tempted to walk away – after all no one was hurt. This is a crime – the law requires that you stay at the scene and contact the police right away. In addition to that many of the injuries that occur after an accident only manifest after several hours, so you may drive away not knowing whether you have caused someone serious harm.

Secure the Scene

The next thing to do is secure the scene. You should check on the other driver and find out whether or not they are okay. The temptation at this point may be to yell at them and get defensive but this doesn’t solve anything, and it only makes a bad situation worse. Once you find out that they are okay you should call an ambulance – just because you are both standing doesn’t mean that you are injury free. The EMT’s will check you out at the scene to ensure that you don’t have any life threatening injuries.

Document Everything

Once they give you the okay it is time to start documenting the accident. The camera on your mobile phone will do. Take as many photos as possible of the parts of the car that are damaged as well as of the scene itself. Do not get upset if the other driver is doing the same – they are only trying to do the right thing. Ask them to give you their insurance information and contact details and hand them yours too. Avoid conversation – you may say something that can later be used against you.

Get a Police Report Number

Car Accident

Been in a car accident?

By this time the police will most likely have arrived and they will want a report from you. Tell them everything you can remember and do not tell them any lies or assumptions. If your insurance company finds out that your account is doubtable they may refuse to honor your claim. If there are details you do not remember or that are not clear do not hesitate to let the police know – it is understandable after you have been in an accident. The police will ask you questions and your answers will help them open a police report. Get a police report number so that your personal injury attorney can follow up later. If the police ask you whether you are injured you should let them know that you are not sure. As mentioned earlier car accident injuries can take a few hours to manifest, and saying that you are not injured could only cast doubts in case it turns out that you are.

Call your Lawyer

It is now time to call your lawyer. He will advise you on what to do next, which will be to call your insurance company right away. Insurance companies like to know immediately after an accident occurs and your attorney will let you what you should say to them. Your personal injury attorney will also advise you not to talk to anyone else, so if anyone approaches you refer them to him. If there were witnesses to the accident make sure to get their names – they may come in handy later.

See Your Doctor

Next is your doctor – he needs to give you a thorough check-up to make sure that you don’t have any internal injuries. Make sure that you keep all the paperwork related to this visit so that you can draft a claim to the insurance company. If there were any other people with you they should get checked too – they are covered under your policy. Hand this paperwork to your personal injury attorney – he will follow up from there.                    
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